Washington: After 15 years of inquiry, 307 antiques worth approximately $4 million dollars that were stolen by numerous smaller trafficking networks were returned to India by US officials, according to a news release issued on Monday.
Alvin L. Bragg Jr., the district attorney for Manhattan, stated on Monday that 307 artefacts worth nearly $4 million that were seized from disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor will be returned to the people of India.
The item trafficking from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other nations was assisted by the looter Subhas Kapoor.
Five of the antiques were confiscated in accordance with the Office’s investigation against Nancy Wiener, and one in accordance with an investigation into Nayef Homsi, the statement reads.
At a repatriation ceremony held at the Indian Consulate in New York, all the artefacts were returned. US Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Acting Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge, Tom Lau, also participated.
“We are proud to return hundreds of stunning pieces to the people of India,” the press statement quoted District Attorney Bragg as saying.
“These antiquities were stolen by multiple complex and sophisticated trafficking rings – the leaders of which showed no regard for the cultural or historical significance of these objects. Tracking down these antiquities would not be possible without the collaboration of our law enforcement partners at HSI and the outstanding work of our world-class investigators,” he added.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso said, “Today we are proud to join our partners from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to return an incredible 307 stolen works of art and antiquities to their rightful home in India. This repatriation is the result of a globe-spanning, fifteen-year investigation whereas the investigative team chased leads, followed the money and ultimately seized these pieces, ensuring their return to the people of India,”
The statement states that he also said that HSI will keep looking into artefacts with dubious provenance or little to no provenance and would collaborate with domestic and international partners to return these irreplaceable historical artefacts to their proper homes.
For more than ten years, the District Attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit has been looking into Kapoor and his accomplices for the illegal looting, exportation, and sale of artefacts from numerous nations around the world. They have done this in conjunction with law enforcement partners at Homeland Security Investigations.
One of the items being returned is the marble Arch Parikara, which is estimated to be worth USD 85,000.
The Arch Parikara first appeared in images of antiquity in a filthy, before-restoration state. These images, along with many others showing ancient artefacts sprawled across the grass or on the ground, were supplied to Kapoor by an illegal drug supplier in India. The statement claims that the object was brought into New York from India in May 2002.
The Arch Parikara was then cleaned by Kapoor and given to the Nathan Rubin – Ida Ladd Family Foundation, who in 2007 gave it to the Yale University Art Gallery.
The Office has already given 13 countries 682 antiques worth over USD 84 million in 2022 alone. The Antiquities Trafficking Unit has returned approximately 2,200 artefacts worth more than USD 160 million since it was established.